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Isla de Margarita

Pearl of the Caribbean


Isla Margarita, Playa Guayacan

Isla Margarita, Playa Guayacan

Nicholas Pitt / Getty Images

Beaches. White sand. Warm clear water. Tropical breezes. Scuba. Windsurfing. Palm trees. Temperate climate. Tranquility. Excitement. Sailing. Sunsets.

You'll find these at the many beaches of Margarita Island located 17 miles off the coast of Venezuela. It's been a favored destination with European tourists for some time but the island is gaining esteem from beachgoers from all countries. It's also a preferred location for windsurfers as the wind and water cooperate to make the beach of El Yaque a world-class windsurfing beach. The island also draws and entertains conferences.

It won't take long to orient yourself. Most of the growth is along the lush green northeastern shore, with the southwestern portion and the desert-like Peninsula de Macanao largely undeveloped. Named La Margarita or pearl for the pearls the Spanish conquistadors found there the island grouping has become a gem as a tourist destination. In addition to the seventy plus beaches which attract beachgoers, the island's 500 year history can be seen in the fortresses churches and museums. The constant winds and clear skies make parasailing, ultralight flights and other extreme sports very popular. For those who prefer to see the sights from the ground at a slower pace, horseback riding is a favored activity.

The island is out of the hurricane belt making it a year-round destination. Even in the summer months when the temperature may reach 100F (37C) the cooling breezes keep the climate very liveable. You'll want to be careful with water as it is piped in from the Venezuelan mainland but don't let that stop you from enjoying all that Isla de Margarita has to offer.

As a break from beach activities explore any of the five national parks on the island. The most famous, Laguna La Restinga, is a lagoon with mangrove swamps and colorful flamingos. You can take a boat across the lagoon to a protected beach. The bird communities of the Macanao Peninsula encompass over 100 species a delight for birdwatchers. Additionally Isla de los Pajaros offers snorkeling and fishing opportunities.

El Copey Hill National Park has the highest peak on the island La Sierra where the temperarure is always cool and the view terrific. It is accessible only on foot.

Inland the capital city of La Asunción is a traditional colonial city with the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of La Asunción built in 1571 now an historical monument. Visit the museums and the open air markets for Handicrafts such as hammocks straw hats and bags before heading for the more modern city of Porlamar the hub of much of the tourist activity on the island.

You'll find upscale shopping centers such as Rattan Plaza Shopping Center in Playa El Angel, Porlamar and Los Robles Shopping Center where you can safely leave the children in Play Aventura or Play Planet while you shop. Declared a duty free port in the 1970's Margarita makes shopping for imported goods very reasonable.

For family fun try Diverland the amusement park in Pampatar or Waterland a hands-on aquarium and water show. And after one of the spectacular sunsets the island is famous for you'll be ready for the nightlife on Margarita Island. There's a lot of choice: from quiet pub to noisy energetic dance til you drop club or the casinos.

Check flights from your area to Caracas and other Venezuelan cities with connections to Isla de Margarita. From this page, you can also browse hotels, rental cars, and special deals.

Lodgings on Margarita range from some very expensive resorts to cabins almost on the beach so you're sure to find something to suit your taste and budget. Most hotels and resorts are clustered around the northeastern side of the island near or on the beaches. You might want to stay at Laguna Mar, a large all inclusive family resort with practically everything close at hand, or at a hotel in one of the picturesque fishing villages such as Juan Griego.

No matter where you stay you're sure to enjoy your visit.

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